In an interview with Marketplace.org host Kai Ryssdal, Vassar College history Professor Quincy Mills, describes the black-owned barbershop as one of the first ways African-American men become entrepreneurs. Author of a new book on the subject called Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America, Mills says the history of these barber shops is deeply entwined with the history of slavery.

After the Civil War, barbering became a way for some African-Americans “to find some little pockets to sort of figure out how they could at least earn a little bit of money, and control their time — which of course was what slaves did not have control over.”

Quote:

“So barbering still serves as that avenue for men, whether they want to own a barber shop or just work in [one]. But also, barber shops provide this sort of central hub, if you will, for communities across the country to understand the nature of their respective communities. And so I would argue that’s just as vital to an economy as is the number of jobs one can generate.”

Story transcript: A history of the African-American barbershop

Audio:

 

(Photo: San Diego History Center, Norman Bayard Collection via: Pacific San Diego Magazine)

8
For 309 Years, This Small Business Has Chiseled American History in Stone

The hand-lettering stone work of Nick Benson and his staff at the John Stevens Shop will be around for centuries. It seems only appropriate that the company creating that work has been around for centuries, as well.

9
8 U.S. Presidents Who Started and Ran Businesses

There are only a few presidents who started businesses, and not all of those were successful. Here are some who tried and succeeded, others who tried and failed.

10
9 Small Business Lessons From Christopher Columbus

While we’re sure there are at least 1,492 lessons for small business owners and managers from Christopher Columbus, we limited this list to nine.

11
This American Small Business Celebrates Flag Day All Year

Founded in 1847, America’s oldest and largest flag company is still family owned and operated.

12
This Sixth-Generation Family Business Lights Up the 4th of July Sky

Carrying on a tradition started in 1850, Grucci Fireworks is now in its sixth generation as a family business.